Whooping cough now an epidemic in California

By Phil Plait | June 23, 2010 7:48 pm

Syringe, from http://www.flickr.com/photos/8499561@N02/2756332192/According to a statement just released by the California Department of Public Health, pertussis — whooping cough — is now officially an epidemic in California.

That’s right: an almost completely preventable disease is coming back with a roar in California. There have been well over 900 cases of pertussis in that state this year, over four times as many as this time last year (and 600 more suspected cases are being investigated). If this keeps up, California may see more cases in 2010 than it has in 50 years.

If that doesn’t anger and sicken you enough, then this most assuredly will: there have been five deaths this year from pertussis as well, all babies under three months of age.

Infants aren’t fully protected against pertussis until they have completed the first schedule of vaccinations, when they reach 6 months. Before then, they are vulnerable to the disease. The most likely reservoir for the bacterium? Unvaccinated people, including other children. If too many people go unvaccinated, the disease can find a host and survive long enough to infect others. If enough people are vaccinated, that chance drops. This effect is called herd immunity, and it’s the only thing that can keep this highly contagious and potentially fatal disease away from infants.

As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle:

There is no shortage of vaccines, which are provided for free to hospitals and participating counties by the state health department.

Emphasis mine. So why aren’t people getting vaccinated?

Of course, some people cannot be vaccinated due to allergies or other medical reasons. And it’s too early to say for sure if the antivax movement is behind this… but their shoulders have plenty of room for blame. [Note: some comments below are indicating that this outbreak is actually tied to the immigrant population in California. I want to be clear that I am not blaming the antivax movement for this particular epidemic, but that in many cases they can be directly or indirectly tied to lower vaccine rates. However, pending any evidence for this, which may yet be forthcoming, it is also premature to blame immigrants for this as well.] We know for a fact that in Sydney Australia, where the antivax movement was quite strong in recent years, pertussis gained strength, and several babies died, including Dana McCaffery. She was four weeks old when pertussis took her.

Four weeks.

Meryl Dorey, the head of the now-happily-defunct Australian Vaccination Network — a fringe but vocal vaccine denialist group — said all sorts of horrid things about vaccinations, all of which were incorrect. She distorted the truth, ignored evidence, and used every means at her disposal to terrify parents into not vaccinating.

Jenny McCarthy and the recently-disgraced Andrew Wakefield are also vocally spreading false information about vaccines. The result is that they are aggressively giving diseases like pertussis, measles, rubella, and even polio a chance to come back.

Vaccines work. They are one of the greatest medical inventions of all time. They have saved hundreds of millions of lives. They are inexpensive, easy to get, and may save not just your life and the lives of your children, but also those of children you’ve never even met.

This is America, this is the 21st century, and people are still dying of pertussis. It’s shameful, it’s unnecessary, and it’s completely preventable.

Syringe picture from ZaldyImg’s Flickr stream.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Alt-Med, Antiscience, Piece of mind

Comments (148)

  1. This is f[censored for family friendly blog]ing ridiculous! We’ve got this dasterdly disease under control and on its way to being defeated, and some f[censored again]ing smooth talking antivaxxers bring it back. God [censored censored censored censored censored censored censored censored censored censored censored]!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Cindy

    Just saw the news on CNN and was wondering if you were going to comment on this. The CNN article said that the largest outbreak is in the Central Valley and health officials are trying to reach the large Latino population. So this outbreak may be linked more to inadequate access to health care than people deciding not to vaccinate.

    Either way, it’s sad when babies die from a preventable disease.

  3. khan

    Also making a comeback in Greene County Ohio

  4. Jason

    And now queue the AntiVaxxers who seem to have a constant Google search for “Vaccine” going…

    I agree, Phil, this is just asinine to every level of being. I’m only half-joking when I tell folks that I can foresee a widespread re-introduction of multiple “dead” diseases into our primary schools in the next decade because of people who will believe any headline that’s loud and blame-filled so that they don’t have to look in the mirror for answers to their questions about their kids…

  5. Someone needs to set up a campaign featuring posters emblazoned with “I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATHS OF INNOCENT CHILDREN”, with the mugshots of various antivaxxers beneath.

    Is this plausible? I guess not. Would it work? Maybe. Is it fair? Absolutely. It’s not calling them murderers per se – just saying the truth: that their actions (and ensuing inaction in parents’ failure to vaccinate their kids) are leading to more and more kids dying.

    Okay, going away to seethe, now.

  6. MarkHB

    That triggered a complete Rage Inhibitor burnout here. What the [expletive deleted].

    Being stupid doesn’t just hurt oneself, it can kill other people.

  7. Paul

    Two strikes against California today (Institute for Creation Research and this) and no DOOMED graphic?

    (I know, Texas is easy: the graphic get used so frequently it’s probably on your desktop)

  8. EdF

    I suspect that in this case it’s more about Latin American immigrants and a lack of healthcare access. Why we don’t vaccinate everyone for free, I don’t know, seems like a cheap and easy solution to a lot of problems.

  9. Allen

    They should be ashamed of themselves. Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, Andrew Wakefield, and the others are killing innocent children with this nonsense. And for what? Because there might possibly be a link between vaccines and autism? There isn’t. The research has shown that. Millions of dollars has been wasted proving such.

    Even if vaccines caused autism, which they don’t, the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. Saving millions of lives at the cost of a couple of children with learning disabilities? Not to sound cold-hearted, but those are excellent results. It could be worse, they could actually result in deaths.

  10. Phil, I’m a little taken aback by this post and the resulting comments.

    Anti-vaccination propaganda is a horrible crime and it certainly didn’t help in this case, but if you do a little homework you’ll discover that the populations in which the cases this year are the highest are poor immigrant farm workers.

    These people are not under-vaccinated because they are listening to Jenny McCarthy. They are under-vaccinated because they are uneducated and poor.

    Jumping to conclusions is never rational. Yes, we need to stop the anti-vaccination crap, but blaming it for everything is not helpful because it allows people to ignore serious problems.

    Please, people. Think about it.

  11. Tommy

    I was thinking that I will post some sick dead babies jokes but then I thought I would horribly break the mood.

  12. Tyler

    Why is this posted on a blog called Bad Astronomy? Please do not post things like this again. I don’t care what side of the debate you’re on, this has nothing to do with astronomy and should therefore not be on this blog. Stick to what you know.

  13. Bart

    I agree with badrescher. My first thought when I started reading this is that it may be people who are illegal immigrants or people in poverty who are not educated to the fact that they can and should get these vaccinations.

  14. Jon Hanford

    At the same time as this news on pertussis breaks:

    “Polio outbreak in Tajikistan is cause for alarm”

    “This is the first persistent outbreak of polio in a country that was previously certified to be polio-free. The outbreak represents 75% of the world’s polio cases and far exceeds that of India and Nigeria, which are usually the sources of polio outbreaks.”

    “Countries such as the Ukraine and Georgia are below the 90%[minimum immunization coverage] target, and regions within Canada and some European countries have low community uptake rates. In Ontario, for example, childhood immunization rates are only in the high 70% to low 80% range, comparable to rates in Tajikistan. Concerns about vaccine safety, anti-government views and religious strictures against vaccinations have contributed to this lower uptake.”

    “Individuals without polio symptoms started the Tajikistan outbreak with cases now appearing in Russia and Uzbekistan. Global travel can hasten the spread of the disease.”

    Full story: http://www.physorg.com/news196512267.html

  15. Tyler (#12): I have an idea: read this.

    badrescher (#10): As I point out in the post, it’s too early to know if this is directly due to the antivax movement. But it’s also true the movement has been making footholds all over the country, and I will take opportunities to point that out when I can.

    California does have a high immigration rate, of course, but simply pointing that out doesn’t mean they are the ones to blame, and that it’s because they are “uneducated and poor”. If you have links and citations I would be happy to look at them, of course.

  16. About ten years ago, a friend who is a medical researcher and doctor, now working at Latrobe University, said to me with a catch in his voice and in teeth clenched anger that the worst sound in the world was an infant dying of whooping cough, and he damned these antivaxxers to hell. I can only agree.

  17. @Bart and badrescher,

    Only if there was some sort of universal healthcare that they could take advantage of… Not that the US healthcare system is worth anything these days for what we put into it: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE65M0SU20100623?type=domesticNews

  18. Also, thinking on this more: if this is due to a large immigrant population, then we need to redouble our efforts to contact them about these health issues. I’m not exactly sure how to do that, but it might be somethign we can get the skeptical community interested in, as we did last year when we raised $12,000 for vaccines in Las Vegas.

  19. @ badrescher Thank you for the reminder.
    I have a latent tendency to attach all related data to my sore spots. (just the sort of thing I get angry at in the nonsense peddlers.) I was working up a good rant on the subject when I read your comment. Thanks.

  20. RobsterFCD

    Edited because other people already made my point, and there was no reason to pile on further.

  21. @10 badrescher

    Phil said, “And it’s too early to say for sure if the antivax movement is behind this…”

    Now, I would like to know, what percentage of people in that area are immigrants?

    Because if the non-immigrant population were all vaccinated, wouldn’t that provide herd immunity for those who are not? Or is the immigrant population 10-20% of that area (I am not sure exactly what the vaccine rate needs to be for Pertussis in order to achieve herd immunity).

    I can understand someone who is new to the country and does not speak English very well being unaware that they are able to get vaccinations for free plus the fear of deportation.

    Unless the ratio of immigrant to non-immigrant population in that area is something like 1 in 5, I would think herd immunity would kick in. But as I said already, I do not know those numbers and I am uncertain of what PoP would need to be vaccinated for herd immunity against Pertussis.

  22. Teeny

    I had whopping cough last spring/summer and I live in Houston. Doctors are slow to diagnose it because it starts out as a normal cough and then develops into an actual whooping cough. By the time I realized what I had it was too late to do anything about it. During my first attack I seriously thought I was suffocating to death. I was sick for three very long months (the Chinese call it the 100 day cough for a reason). I was reluctant to go into public for fear of having an attack. Everyone tells you to “just breathe”, they can’t understand that this is impossible!

    Apparently the vaccine expires after ten years, so adults be warned, it can be contracted by you too. If you do get it, make a 100 day calendar and just start X-ing off the days because there is not much else you can do.

  23. Leanne

    Maybe Larry King and Jenny McCarthy will have a telethon to raise money to help pay for the medical expenses that these families will incur.

  24. Dear Phil,

    [note -- I'm about to run out of time to edit this--stand by for second comment]

    Many adults do not know that pertussis immunity declines over time, and that they may be a source of infection for infants not only in their own personal sphere, but to infants from casual contact. Since the disease is relatively mild in adults, many may have the disease without knowing it.

    It wasn’t until 2004 that the need for adolescent and adult boosters were found to be useful.

    According to NNii

    Two new vaccines were licensed by the Food and Drug Administration for use in older individuals in 2005. These vaccines are abbreviated Tdap. One, BOOSTRIX®, is licensed for use in persons 10-18 years of age, the other ADACEL® is licensed for use in persons 11-64 years of age.

    In 2007, PKIDS launched the “Silence the Sounds of Pertussis” campaign to boost adult uptake of Tdap. The message was:

    Researchers have found, that in up to 80% of pertussis cases, infants caught the disease from a family member. Get the adult vaccine to help prevent giving this dangerous illness to your baby.

    Tdap stands for Tetanus, Diptheria (acellular) Pertussis.

    December 2006 CDC advisory on adult immunization against pertussis

    To reduce pertussis morbidity among adults and maintain the standard of care for tetanus and diphtheria prevention and to reduce the transmission of pertussis to infants and in health-care settings, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that: 1) adults aged 19–64 years should receive a single dose of Tdap to replace tetanus and diphtheria toxoids vaccine (Td) for booster immunization against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis if they received their last dose of Td >10 years earlier and they have not previously received Tdap; 2) intervals shorter than 10 years since the last Td may be used for booster protection against pertussis; 3) adults who have or who anticipate having close contact with an infant aged <12 months (e.g., parents, grandparents aged <65 years, child-care providers, and health-care personnel) should receive a single dose of Tdap to reduce the risk for transmitting pertussis. An interval as short as 2 years from the last Td is suggested; shorter intervals can be used. When possible, women should receive Tdap before becoming pregnant. Women who have not previously received Tdap should receive a dose of Tdap in the immediate postpartum period; 4) health-care personnel who work in hospitals or ambulatory care settings and have direct patient contact should receive a single dose of Tdap as soon as feasible if they have not previously received Tdap. An interval as short as 2 years from the last dose of Td is recommended; shorter intervals may be used.

    April 2009 CDC advisory on adult immunization against pertussis

    Boostrix is now indicated for use as a single-dose booster immunization in persons aged 10–64 years. The recommended interval between 2 doses of Td-containing vaccines in adolescents and adults is at least 5 years because of concern over increased reactogenicity (1,2); however, data are available suggesting that intervals as short as approximately 2 years are safe (8). An interval <5 years between Td and Tdap may be used if increased risk for acquiring pertussis (e.g., during outbreaks or periods of increased pertussis activity in the community, or among health-care workers) exists (1,2). The safety and effectiveness of Tdap have not been established in pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children aged <10 years. Current doses in stock can be used for persons aged 10–64 years.

    On a personal note: My son and daugher in law were expecting a child in February of this year. While I thought I was up-to-date on my vaccines, I thought I should check, just in case. I was surprised to find that it had been more than 10 years since my last tetanus booster — I guess I hadn’t had cause to travel or what we call “a bleedy injury” in over 10 years– and my previous vaccination had not included the pertussis element.

    So, readers — check your vaccine status, and encourage your friends and co-workers to do the same.

  25. Now I wonder whether I need a vaccine. I probably do. I have no idea what vaccines I have had or not had. (other than yearly flu) We moved several times in my childhood and I am at a loss as to how to find out.
    Is there a way? A blood test? Suggestions?

  26. Wendy

    I’m 3 weeks from welcoming my second son into this world. I can’t tell you how terrified I am of pertussis. With my first son, I was the least paranoid mom ever, and for the most part, I still am. I don’t neuroticallly soak his toys in bleach every week, I don’t boil any pacifier or sippy cup that’s dropped. He’s exposed to the normal every day “crud” for good immune system practice. He’s also 100% fully vaccinated, including H1N1. Getting the sniffles = good for immunity building. Getting polio/pertussis/measles/etc = wholly unnecessary risk of death & permanent damage.

    With pertussis, I feel absolutely & totally powerless. I can only go so far in encouraging friends & acquaintances to get a booster, and I have absolutely no way to know which stranger coughing in the mall has a cold, and which one has whooping cough. It terrifies me to think that my only protection is to keep my son inside until he’s fully vaccinated.

    Phil – do you by chance have any information on the vaccination rate in Colorado? If it’s high enough to confer reasonable herd immunity, it may ease my mind, but I know we’ve got a lot of Silly Hippies in the People’s Republic of Boulder that may skew that statistic.

  27. And all — do you know your vaccination status relative to pertussis?

    Even though I had been a promoter of the “Silence the Sounds of Pertussis” campaign, before the birth of my grandchild I was chagrined to discover I was incompletely vaccinated against pertussis.

    Don’t be chagrined like me — check with your health care provider. If you haven’t had a Tdap in the last few years, get vaccinated.

    Here’s some concrete things that you can do to halt the spread: proselytize your colleagues and friends. Print out the information from Silence the Sound of Pertussis and hand them out, or subsidize a campaign in your neighborhood.

    If you happen to live in an area with a significant Hispanic population, why don’t you contact your local department of health to see what you can do as an individual volunteer to raise adult pertussis vaccination rates?

  28. Peter

    I wouldn’t call the Australian Vaccination Network defunct while its website is still up and spreading dangerous misinformation!

    Even if only one person reads it and decides not to vaccinate then their goal is still being achieved :(

    There are lots of good links here about just how crazy the AVN is!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Vaccination_Network

  29. Dear Wendy @26:

    Felicitations on your impending family addition!

    Phil – do you by chance have any information on the vaccination rate in Colorado? If it’s high enough to confer reasonable herd immunity, it may ease my mind, but I know we’ve got a lot of Silly Hippies in the People’s Republic of Boulder that may skew that statistic.

    Data for all of Colorado wouldn’t be all that helpful for your peace of mind. You are better off asking the public health office for your county as to vaccination rates. You may also want to ask their advice about protecting your newborn from pertussis.

    Uhhm: unsolicited grandmotherly advice–feel free to ignore You might also ask your your children’s pediatrician about the immunization status of the other children in the practice, on the grounds that you will be bringing your unvaccinated infant into the office on a regular basis. You might also want or have to be to be a bit tough on this if the pede hems and haws about vaccine rate in the practice.

  30. John

    to Tyler… If you don’t like it go to another website yourself…

  31. Linda

    I’m surprised but not entirely. I have the vaccine and last year I got whooping cough too, except that I live in Louisiana. I have no idea how I contracted it since all my friends and family are vaccinated… All I know for sure is those were the worst two weeks ever.

  32. Erp

    I suspect in certain farm worker areas in the Central Valley the ratio of of illegal to legal residents is quite high and even those who are legal may avoid hospitals because they can’t afford them. Children under 18 can be immunized for free but information on that may be scarce (and adults particularly new parents also need to be immunized or given booster shots and those aren’t necessarily free).

    California’s immunization web site has some info.

  33. Wendy (26): congrats! And contact the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition. They’re a good group and a friend of the blog.

  34. HEP

    Anti-vacciners really get up my nose, especially the ones trying to convince more people to leave their kids unvaccinated. The daughter of my good friend recently contracted whooping cough. She is fine now, but it was very scary. That said I have to point out that the article from the CDPH website lacks some important info. From the article:

    “Pertussis is cyclical. Cases tend to peak every two to five years. In 2005, California recorded 3,182 cases and eight deaths.”

    That’s a whole lot more cases in 2005 than the last 12 months. If pertussis is on a 5 year cycle then 2010 would be the next peak year. I assume that Dr. Horton is projecting the rate of change from the first 6 months of 2010 onto the last 6 months. He must calculate a much larger number than ~3000 if 2010 is predicted to be the worst in 50 years. Do you have any more light to shed on this?

    I apologize is this has been covered before, I just did a quick scan of the comments.

  35. Echoing what 22, 24, 26, 27 said:
    One of the main Pertussis hazards is grandparents who were vaccinated more than 30 years ago and who have lost their immunity. While vaccines work for this disease, they don’t work forever. So it is important to get a booster. As 24 points out, it is available with a tetanus booster. But you gotta stay up to date. I’m not sure the antivax folks are the main culprits in this particular case.

  36. Hans

    Ironic… to think that if the pre-Columbian civs down here had somehow stumbled onto vaccination, I would write this in Nahuatl… and you guys would understand it. And some 300 years after Jenner we Lat-Ams are still suffering from lack of vaccines.

  37. sef

    Question. It’s possible that pertussis can and has adapted to the vaccine. (http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol7no3_supp/mooi.htm)

    Therefore: Does anyone know if the cases in California are the “old” pertussis or some kind of “new” pertussis?

    Also, this piece doesn’t say, but maybe someone else knows: of the 900 people diagnosed with whooping cough, how many were fully vaccinated?

    I’m not saying one way or the other, but those are datapoints I would like to have.

  38. Phil,

    For starters, here’s the NY Times piece on it:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/24/us/24cough.html

    But…

    As I point out in the post, it’s too early to know if this is directly due to the antivax movement. But it’s also true the movement has been making footholds all over the country, and I will take opportunities to point that out when I can.

    Defensive much?

    By this logic, I should write nice long rant about subtle sexism every time women only make up 20% of a company’s employee list, regardless of how many women applied for those jobs.

    And have you thought about what this does to your credibility? To our credibility?

    Yes, the anti-vax movement SUCKS. But I’ll repeat what I said because I think it’s important enough to say again: knee-jerk reactions don’t help.

    Neither does a defensive response when someone points out that you may have reacted emotionally rather than rationally. You’re human. People will actually admire you more if you admit that.

    Just sayin’.

  39. Chris

    While outbreaks of disease like Pertussis are cyclical, AND this may be a poor, uneducated population that is skewing the numbers, it is no reason to let down our guard against anti-vaxx nonsense.

    If someone in California was bright enough to do the math and figure out that free vaccinations for all residents, “legal” or otherwise, would reduce future health care costs, and the CA gubmint was far-sighted enough to try to implement this, they would see opposition. And guess who would jump up and put their ugly BS in the middle of it. That’s right, the anti-vaxx crowd.

    Best to keep fighting them with science, evidence, and the revealing of their own ignorance to many many millions of people.

  40. Stargazer

    I thought it was just the insane sort of militia survival type people who refuse vaccination.

  41. badrescher (38):

    First, thank you for the NYT link. The fact that all the infants were Latino was not in the two articles and the government alert I read. That’s disheartening, and I hope the word can get out to that community. I will continue to look into this as the opportunity arises. I’ve already sent one email to an expert and I’ll do more as I can.

    Second, to your accusation of me being defensive: you appear to have a low threshold for using that term. I updated the post to make it more clear what I was saying. As I pointed out in the post, and then again to you in my comment above, I wasn’t blaming the antivax community for this outbreak. Since you and someone else in the comments missed that caveat, and by default I assume it’s my fault for not being clear enough in the post when something like that happens, I wrote an update.

    So I wouldn’t categorize that as being defensive. Nor would I say my response to you was, except to say I was defending my writing. But that’s different than a knee-jerk reaction. Of course I was being emotional in my writing; I am human, as you point out. But to say I was not being credible is a bit much. When I write about vaccines I usually talk about the antivax movement, since they’re are inextricably related.

    I have been doing this a long, long time, and readily accept blame when it’s my fault for something. In this case, I think you’re overreacting.

  42. Your Name Here

    Joé McKen: Do you have any really good mug shots?

  43. Stargazer (40): Sadly, it’s people from all walks of life. I would guess that the three main reasons people don’t vaccinate are 1) religious, 2) laziness, and 3) falling for the antivax propaganda. Like most denialism or simple uncritical thinking, it doesn’t matter how smart you are, or how educated you are. Almost everyone does it to one degree or another.

  44. Ted

    why do they always leave out Robert Kennedy Jr’s contribution to this mess. His publication in Rolling Stone was probably the biggest influence of all.

  45. trebob

    For those of you who are interested, Youtube’s DonExodus2 has done a two part video series on vaccines and autism.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6AJUWFXrBI

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9P80I96X4c

  46. john bennetts

    Phil,

    Thanks to your previous posts on vaccinations, my awareness was boosted. Then a local Nurse Manager friend of ours, who heard my wife say that our first grandchold had arrived, spoke up. It was approximately 40 years since vaccinantions of any kind except tetanus and the flu for us, so the advice was both timely and has been acted on.

    Message: If you are about to become a parent or a grandparent, check your “herd” for immunisation status and bring it up to date. In Australia it cost a few dollars, but I would truly hate to be an inadvertent carrier of a preventable disease to my kin.

  47. So as someone who is still recovering from Pertussis (first signs of a-typical symptoms April 26th), I’ve been vaccinated against the disease.

    Yay for vaccines?

    Also, I’m in Arizona. The biggest problem with the disease is that you’re contagious prior to showing the traditional “whoop” symptoms. I was first diagnosed with pneumonia, however I hadn’t been coughing–at all. In fact, I’d mostly been vomiting without coughing & having chest pains, shortness of breath, etc… My son was diagnosed with Bronchitis around the same time, however never diagnosed with pertussis itself. He’s been vaccinated as well. (just 8 months prior)

    Vaccines can’t always protect you.

    What I was told by the health department is that for adults and older children this isn’t such a huge deal as it is for infants. You feel like garbage for awhile, you take an antibiotic & you’re done (maybe feel like garbage a little while longer). The significance lies in that the early stages of the disease appear to be the common cold/flu.

    I can’t stress enough: if you work around young children, especially infants, and you feel as though you’re sick & are running a fever…PLEASE stay home. I know it can be inconvenient, but it can also save little lives & heartache.

  48. oh! Also! The BEST thing you can do to control disease is WASH YOUR HANDS frequently & practice good hygiene! Even those vaccinated contract the disease.

  49. Karen

    The AVN are not dead in the water. They very recently had a conference in Perth, Western Australia after a flu shot problem in WA. I suspect the threats to close down the AVN were more of a shakedown for cash.

    @Non believer, I had a blood test after my daughter was born and found that I was no longer immune to Whooping cough. In the state that I live in Australia vaccines are now free to parents and grandparents to try and quelch the outbreak we’re having here.

  50. John

    I am a senior adult who has had whooping cough the last four months in Santa Rosa CA. My girlfriend has had a milder version for the same amount of time.. When I first came down with this in mid February, the docs did not recognise it and said it was bronchitis. When I told them I was having violent coughing epidsodes..no big deal…but when I started to pass out during those violent coughing episodes they started to pay attention. I am doing a lot better now but am very tired and weak. I did some research and found that it is often misdiagnosed. I received a vaccination for it as a child but it can wear off so it is a good idea to get revacinated as an adult. It is caused by a nasty bacteria “pertussis” but antibiotics don’t help much except to keep you from getting pneumonia.

  51. Michel

    No word from Oprah yet?

  52. shawmutt

    Phil,

    I’d add uninformed as the #4 reason folks don’t get vaccinated. I didn’t know the pertussis vaccine wore off after 10 years–ironically I found that out by following anti-vax tripe.

  53. I would guess that the three main reasons people don’t vaccinate are 1) religious, 2) laziness, and 3) falling for the antivax propaganda.

    Are you sure about this? I’d say lack of access to doctors is probably very high on the list, perhaps even #1. Half of my adult friends do not have health insurance and cannot afford a doctor’s visit – How would they get a booster shot? Even when vaccines are free, it’s usually only to kids, and the visit often still has to be paid for.

  54. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Oh, the blaming game:

    @ badrescher:

    the populations in which the cases this year are the highest are poor immigrant farm workers.

    These people are not under-vaccinated because they are listening to Jenny McCarthy. They are under-vaccinated because they are uneducated and poor.

    [Next comment:]

    For starters, here’s the NY Times piece on it:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/24/us/24cough.html

    You have not established a case, and I dare say after checking the facts that you can’t establish such a case.

    First, the outbreak signifies that it is the specific US region that has the low herd immunity. And, as commenters note, it is a further stretch to claim that immigrants somehow diluted any existing immunity.

    Second, the article you reference claim, but doesn’t test, that the incidences correlate to areas with Latino workers; anecdote isn’t data. Further you have to provide evidence to establish causality (since correlation isn’t causation) and you would have to establish that the Latino population are first generation immigrants.

    Third, looking at WHO data for the pertussis (DTP) vaccine, world wide you have 90 % (DTP1 antigen) and 82 % (DTP3 antigen) coverage. Americas boasts 97 % respectively 92 %. But looking at, say, Mexico alone, their reported coverage for infants below 12 months of age 00-07 was 99 % respectively 97-98 %! Then it drops for -08 and -09 without any specific reason, but it is safe to say that Americans and specifically those labeled “Latinos” in US can have better herd immunity than US citizens.

    Remember that you _do_ have the worst possible health system known to man, as measured against other similar nations efforts; US consistently places as the worst or second to worst on _all_ indicators of health system quality while paying at least twice as much. It is bound to reveal itself when we study health and health results.

    [As an ironic side note, that is relevant here, it seems on the surface that one major reason for this is US obsession with tests, which naively would go to ensure quality. But extensive tests are expensive and the results delayed (by overuse and compared to simpler tests), and by waiting for the tests, and by getting confused by the excessive amount of information, instead of starting relevant treatment patients gets worse.

    I'm sure this is too simple a model so wrong, plus there are more reasons; but even the hint of such effects are scary. The relevance to vaccination is that US citizens are likely confused by a confused health system, and objectively can't trust it to work as well as should be expected.]

    Fourth, I note that green card immigrants are required to take all US government recommended vaccinations. I assume that covers pertussis, but also makes a mockery of blaming immigrants specifically. The legal immigrants makes up roughly half the inflow and that is (barely) enough for herd immunity assuming the other half isn’t immunized at all. Which according to above is a daft assumption.

    No, I believe the blame for the US outbreaks is entirely to be shouldered by US themselves. Remember, conspiracy theories and blaming tactics are _always_ the least likely explanation for events, they are constructed that way (to be as hard to refute as possible by avoiding known, likely, factors).

  55. Peter B

    I took advantage of the birth of my son 15 days ago (yay me!) to get my free Pertussis booster earlier this week.

    I’m particularly conscious of my son’s vulnerability as he was born nearly six weeks premature, and is still in hospital because he hasn’t developed a suck reflex yet. He’s otherwise a healthy little person, but the last thing I’d want is for someone to risk his life because either they’re lazy or they bought the antivax message.

  56. Grand Lunar

    I sure hope this mess doesn’t happen here in Florida. Hope we’re smarter than this.

    I wonder how much the crappy economy and unemployment effect this as well?
    If people can’t afford vaccinations and doctor visits, then it might contribute as well.

  57. One item to add to the comments, though Liz mentioned it in her posts. A number of people have commented on how the immunity from the pertussis vaccine wanes over time. It is important to remember that immunity from the disease itself also wanes over time. In fact, immunity from both the vaccine and the disease wear off after about the same amount of time.

    From the Department of Public Health for Boulder County, Colorado:

    Immunity gained by either vaccination or infection wanes, or decreases, after 10 or 11 years

    If it’s been more than 10 years since you have either been immunized against pertussis or have had pertussis, go get a booster.

  58. It’s perfectly distressing, a colossal, preventable tragedy.

    Harumph.

    HJ

  59. Katharine

    Dang it, Phil, must you drive me further into compassion fatigue?

  60. Andrew

    Phil, as someone who loves your work — in fact *because* I love your work — I leave a vote in support of badrescher’s basic complaint. Now, I see things getting a bit ad hominem, and it’s not necessary.

    One can report two different things as true (i.e., unvaccinated kids dying of pertussis; and antivaccine movement corrupt), but if you report them together you are of course implying causation. Some folks (e.g., certain news outlets and political personalities) do this on purpose. Here you unnecessarily come across as spoiling for a chance to criticize the movement.

    Your disclaimers in light of the facts don’t help b/c it’s obvious criticizing the movement is the point of your post. Surely a report about unvaccinated babies dying speaks eloquently enough!

  61. Mixonph

    I do not know how it is in California, but Alabama as soon as the department of health declares it an epidemic there is no longer a choice to vaccinate the state forces anyone not allergic to the vaccine to receive it.

  62. rob

    Anti-vaxxer am I, full-ripe, dealing death to the children, engaged in devouring mankind.

    Even without slaying them not one of the pro-vaxxers, ranged for battle against thee, shall survive.

  63. @Torbjörn Larsson

    but it is safe to say that Americans and specifically those labeled “Latinos” in US can have better herd immunity than US citizens.

    Without bias as to what conclusions are true in the outbreak:
    Your conclusion doesn’t apply to this particular population of children and infants. Once the adults arrived as immigrants, their access to the healthcare in Mexico was gone. Their access to the healthcare in the US is more likely a factor in getting the children immunized. The longer that goes on, the more children running around without immunization the weaker their herd immunity.

    It strikes me that there are probably a lot of factors in these whooping cough breakouts. Not the least is lack of booster awareness in the adult population. I did not know until this post. I am sure I have not had one.

  64. Julia: Because if the non-immigrant population were all vaccinated, wouldn’t that provide herd immunity for those who are not? Or is the immigrant population 10-20% of that area (I am not sure exactly what the vaccine rate needs to be for Pertussis in order to achieve herd immunity).

    Herd immunity works within populations. Thus, if one isolated population is infectable, and a visitor who is infected from a community that is 95% vaccinated shows up , that visitor can infect the entire non-vaccinated population. Since vaccines do not work 100% of the time, and immunity wanes, Pertussis will be with us forever. Thus, we must vaccinate, and, as adults approaching parenthood, re-vaccinate.

  65. Alan

    Phil,

    I read your response to Tyler in the link in your post # 15.

    You eat kittens too? We should trade recipes!

  66. Jon

    I did vaccination awareness in Davis, Ca when the vaccination rate was at 67%. This was not a heavy immigrant area and the main issue was people simply forgetting. After an awareness campaign, immunization rates were at 85% in the next six months.

  67. Note to Self: Do not take medical advice from celebrities.

  68. The slowing uptake of parents vaccinating children is making the news almost every day in Perth at the moment. Many concerns from major groups being ignored because of mis-education. This, at the same time there is a big case about a woman dying because she chose homeopathy over chemotherapy, and was conned by a practitioner.

  69. Tim

    If this were the case you’d see this it reflected in Texas. But in Texas the 2006 records show over 25% of cases occurred in Travis and Williamson county (which are more white than the state on average and more hippy and thus more likely to be anti-vaccine).

  70. @65 FreeSpeaker

    “that visitor can infect the entire non-vaccinated population. Since vaccines do not work 100% of the time, and immunity wanes, Pertussis will be with us forever. Thus, we must vaccinate, and, as adults approaching parenthood, re-vaccinate.”

    *Nod* I understand this. I am one of those who for a variety of reasons rely on others for herd immunity.

    I am just curious as to what rate the population would need to be vaccinated against Pertussis to achieve herd immunity. I am under the understanding that each disease has a different rate. I realize Pertussis is one of the more tricky ones for a variety of reasons.

    I am a bit ignorant when it comes to how migrates live within communities there. I am not American so I am trying to visualize this at the moment. By what you have said, am I to infer that immigrants live in isolated “burbs” so to speak? I suppose the answer should be obvious but this is something that truly is foreign to me.

  71. Mircea

    How about dogs in USA , you vaccinate them? How about the immigrant country, are they dealing with that disease too?

  72. Jordan

    I’d say there’s are very good arguments for vaccinations, but people are stupid and believe what they want to believe. Willful ignorance, that’s what this is, from our modern elite. The data is there but people won’t listen. It’s not fashionable to get your kid vaccinated, alternative medicine is where its at these days. It’s just kinda sad that we got this far in terms of public health, just for people to screw it up again. People are stupid I guess…

    Here’s my point: when the vaccinations stop, the disease it was supposed to kill rises. This is a fact. You see it way back in the 60s, and you see it today in modern Africa.

    And people are going to get hurt for the lack of vaccinations. Look, Vaccines aren’t great for you, but there’s a reason it’s been the staple of disease prevention for a hundred years. There has always been controversies surrounding vaccines, because it is such a mind boggling idea.

  73. MartinM

    Some of the objections to Phil’s post are just bizarre. This event was not caused by group X, therefore we should not, in this instance, criticise group X for their support of a position which, if widely adopted, would cause more events exactly like this. No. That doesn’t follow.

  74. buddyglass

    It would be nice to know whether the mothers of the five children who have died so far were vaccinated and were current on their booster shots. The California Dept. of Health indicates that when infants under 3 months are infected, the usual route of transmission is the mother or another family member.

    Certainly a lack of “herd immunity” could result in an infant’s vaccinated mother (or other family member) becoming infected, then transmitting the disease to the infant, but the more likely scenario would seem to be that these infants’ mothers (or family members) were not properly vaccinated.

    The CDC stats:

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus09.pdf#047

    …indicate (p. 323) that childhood vaccination rates increased from 66% in 2002 to 77% in 2007, in spite of the anti-vax fad. This is for the full battery of vaccines, not just pertussis.

    Also interesting is the incidence (per 100k population) of pertussis over time. From p. 250:

    1950: 79.82
    1960: 8.23
    1970: 2.08
    1980: 0.76
    1990: 1.84
    2000: 2.88
    2005: 8.72
    2006: 5.27
    2007: 3.49

    Paul Offit’s book traces the origin of the anti-vax movement to Wakefield in 1998, who was primarily concerned with thimerosal and autism. From there, presumably, people began to freak out about vaccines in general. But if the movement started in 1998, why did the incidence increase significantly from 1980 to 1990? If the movement has continued to pick up steam, why did the incidence decrease from 2005 to 2007?

    This CDC report (from 2000) poses my question for me:

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5128a2.htm

    “Despite record high vaccination coverage levels with 3 doses of DTaP among U.S. children aged 19–35 months, pertussis continues to cause fatal illness among vulnerable infants. During 1980–1998, the average annual incidence of reported pertussis cases and deaths among U.S. infants increased 50%.”

    1998 = pre-anti-vax movement, and the report specifies that vaccination rates were at an all-time high in 2000. Yet, both the incidence of reported cases and deaths increased 50% over this period.

    Seems like there’s definitely something else going on besides low vaccination rates and/or the anti-vax movement.

  75. Jennie

    My child almost died from a reaction to a vaccine. And now he suffers many health problems because of it. Vaccines may prevent some diseases but they create many more problems than the diseases they cure. VACCINES ARE DANGEROUS! It is the educated population that is choosing not to vaccinate.

  76. drsmithe

    I’m sorry. I think it’s just sad that everyone automatically blames non vaxers for endemics. Immunity to both the vaccine and the disease wane over time, so your own immunity might be up and the next cold you have just Might be Pertussis and you just Might be passing it along.
    Are you guys blaming non vaxers utd on your shots? And as sad as the deaths are-do you guys realize that the infants wouldn’t even have had the full schedule of the DTaP yet? So they were not fully protected. The rest of us having or not having a DtP makes no difference to infants, really if they have not been fully vaxed, and even then there is still a percent rate of failure.

  77. dartigen

    If it’s an issue of the migrant population, why not offer them a free vaccine on arrival? Just to make sure. Even if their country is vaccinating, they may not be vaccinted. Australia give schoolchildren free tetanus and hepatitis B vaccines, but I have neither – I was ill on the day, so I missed out and wasn’t vaccinated until a few months ago. Other people may miss out because of holidays, or because they just can’t afford it, or because they’re allergic or otherwise couldn’t have it when it was being given out.

    There’s also the issue of older people who were not children when some vaccines were handed out, and so missed out. My mother relies on herd immunity from measles, mumps and rubella – she was 19 when the MMR vaccine was introduced, and it was never offered to her. She’s not able to get the vaccine now that she’s an adult either (for some reason – I would think it wouldn’t be much different to vaccinating a kid, just a higher dosage) so she has to rely on everyone else being vaccinated, which isn’t the best idea anybody has ever had. Herd immunity only works when it’s 100%, and even then you’re still risking it.

  78. Dara

    It is very sad that 5 infants died. I am curious why the number of infant deaths from vaccines wasn’t posted for people to be outraged about. Before you let your emotions control your decisions, educate yourself on both the pros and cons of vaccines.

  79. @dartigen

    Herd immunity only works when it’s 100%

    Well, not really. It depends on the efficacy of the vaccine. The higher the efficacy, the lower the percentage of the population that needs to be vaccinated in order to reasonably protect the herd. Granted, 100% is best, but unreasonable and, in most cases, not necessary.

  80. Paul in Sweden

    It is a sad state of affairs. Every single individual who lives in public must be vaccinated or be quarantined. It is that simple. However, the scientific community has been compromised. People do not trust you.

    “Survey suggests half of EU citizens believe scientists are ‘dangerous’
    Despite World Cup and Wimbledon fever, a survey published this week suggests that more Europeans are interested in scientific discoveries and technological developments than are interested in sport. According to the latest Eurobarometer survey for the European Commission, 80% are interested in science and technology whereas 65% are interested in sport.

    However, the same survey found that 57% think scientists should be doing more to communicate their work to the general public and 66% believe governments should do more to interest young people in scientific issues.

    Europeans overwhelmingly recognise the benefits of science, but many also express fears about risks from new technologies and the power that knowledge gives to scientists.

    An alarming 58% of respondents across the European Union agreed that:

    “We can no longer trust scientists to tell the truth about controversial scientific and technological issues because they depend more and more on money from industry.”

    The figure falls to 49% for UK respondents. Given the tough news delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the budget on Wednesday and likely cuts in R&D funding to be announced in the autumn spending review, industry might well be expected to step into the breach and provide more cash.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2010/jun/23/survey-eu-scientists-dangerous-eurobarometer

    The Catastrophic Global Warming Industry bears the brunt of these public sentiments.

    People are dying. And I suspect a lot of the dying is due to you. Think of the non-sense posts you bring to this forum. Think of the crap you talk at the dinner table, all the crap you spout adds up.

    You are to blame.

    The population does not trust you. You have leeched to a level just above politicians and lawyers. You can live in your Ivory towers and hold your noses high but when you enter society people laugh at you.

    Why is that?

    Think about your posts, think about what you say. People not only listen but they hear.

    You have been heard and the laughter is resounding.

    When people do not trust science you are to blame. When a mother does not allow her child to be vaccinated pat yourself on your back because it is you who have caused the distrust.

    It is a crying shame!

  81. @Paul in Sweden

    When a mother does not allow her child to be vaccinated pat yourself on your back because it is you who have caused the distrust.

    Seriously? You mean people like Jenny McCarthy, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., JB Handley, Meryl Dorey, Barbara Loe Fisher, David Kirby and sites like Age of Autism, Huffington Post, the AVN, the NVIC and so on don’t have any responsibility for public distrust of vaccines?

    What, exactly, have scientists done that you feel diminishes trust? What do you propose to change public perception?

  82. QuietDesperation

    California does have a high immigration rate, of course, but simply pointing that out doesn’t mean they are the ones to blame, and that it’s because they are “uneducated and poor”.

    Actually, in this economy many of the illegals have autodeported back home for now, so I wouldn’t think it has anything to with all that. From what I can gather, whooping cough goes up and down in a five year cycle in California. It’s clearly indigenous, although I would be curious to see the cases correlated against various factors.

    Could it be a natural pattern with a higher than normal peak this year? Maybe we got a hardier strain this year? Does it mutate all over the place like flu?

    Let’s be *skeptics*, folks and not go into RAGE!!!!!1! mode without all the facts. If it *can* be traced to lack of vaccination, feel free to bust the joint up (sorry, Phil) :-)

    ZOMG! I just found an article about it on the L.A. Times. There’s already two blitheringly ignorant anti-vaxx comments there.

  83. QuietDesperation

    Before you let your emotions control your decisions, educate yourself on both the pros and cons of vaccines.

    Pro: They delivered the world from an era where you were lucky to not die of some horrible disease before you got out of your teens.

    Anti-vaxxers don’t need biology lessons. They need history lessons.

    This right here is the true face of the anti-vaxx movement:

    A polio victim walking on his knees and wooden hand blocks in a part of the world (Nigeria) that could have eradicated the disease if not for superstitious religious (yeah, redundant, I know) leaders preaching anti-vaxx sentiment.

    Don’t tell *me* not to get emotional.

  84. @<a href="http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/06/23/whooping-cough-now-an-epidemic-in-california/#comment-277646Your Name Here #42:
    Found a few photos of Meryl Dorey, Jenny McCarthy and Andrew Wakefield, the three chiefs-in-loony we hear about most commonly. I already used them for a little poster; feel free to use them again (or other pics, or the poster itself, whatever) if you like.

  85. Markle

    Julia (Jules) #21 There’s no need to go all White Man’s Burden on the Spanish language population. From north of Yuba county(perhaps to Redding?) to San Diego, in the SF Bay Area, and Monterey Bay and the LA Basin you will not find yourself outside the transmitter range of all three big Spanish language TV networks: Univision, Telemundo, and Azteca. What’s more, these are going to be full-service local stations, not just rebroadcasts. We’re talking local news and current affairs programming. And the audience is large enough that production values equal or exceed that of English language stations in the same market.

    The radio station situation is just as well covered. In fact, there’s a rule-34 like situation with genres of music. Access to media in native-tongue is not a problem. The Hmong and Vietnamese are second generation native-english speakers.

    I’d look at Oprahfication as a possible cause. What is Cristina Saralegui saying about it? Are the guests on news-at-noon pushing an antivax agenda? When I lived in the Central Valley, free-clinic days were marathons for the medical personnel. There is an appreciation for the value of medical care. There’s also an immense tolerance for bullsh!t superstition if reinforced by authority figures. Just like in the English-speaking population.

  86. Shawn Siegel

    Public perception would be changed if scientists would act trustworthy, Todd W.

    One example; the account of a grandmother, telling of her eight-week-old granddaughter gone for a medical checkup, where she received the DTaP and oral polio vaccines. At the moment of injection the little girl let out a blood-curdling scream; four hours later she died. The doctors ruled her death SIDS. To me, trust just went out the window, and, at least in this instance, it has absolutely nothing to do with Jenny McCarthy or any of the other people or organizations you would like to saddle with the distrust of vaccines, but, rather, simply with me and my belief that the hundreds – thousands – of existing accounts of cases like the one I just described are sufficient reason – nay, obligation – to distrust the science that continually says there is no causation – not even indirect – involved. The organizations you describe?…we – the millions of us who feel as I do – haven’t been convinced of anything by them; we *are* them.

    It takes only a modicum of research to realize that the involuntary scream of that infant was the encephalitic cry unfortunately typical of a certain type of vaccine damage, frequently resulting in brain damage, and, sometimes, as in the example above, in death. I think most folks don’t associate with vaccines the possibility of reactions that horrific, but they are real; they are recorded, and, in many instances, are listed in the adverse reaction section of the vaccine manufacturers’ inserts, along with others that to me are, in a word, unthinkable, when viewed as a potential consequence of a “healthcare” choice. Nor will you see them mentioned in published output of the CDC, or FDA, or your local public health authorities, even though informed consent is the bedrock medical philosophy in our culture. Nor does medical science have any way of predicting who will react adversely, nor how seriously, nor when. Once again, trust is out the window.

    The diseases we are told were eradicated by vaccines?…were not. Research. Access morbidity/mortality rates for measles, for instance, but be sure to view the statistics from before the turn of the twentieth century, through the present. You’ll find that the annual mortality of the disease had decreased ~95% before the advent of the vaccine; it was on its way out. Then consider why it is that the medical establishment consistently advises us to look at that graph only from about 1950 on. Why would they not want us to see the larger picture? Trust?…out the window.

    But hey!…at least some fresh air can come in through that open window.

  87. Jeff

    “Anti-vaxxers don’t need biology lessons. They need history lessons.”

    We can’t just focus on the past. There are pro’s and con’s to vaccines.

    The biggest problem is that “healthcare” is a business, its the con of them all.

    Our healthcare is driven by profit.

    I am not saying vaccines are not usefull today. I am saying that we look at vaccines as the answer, or say a solution.

    I get vaccines and I refuse others.

    Anyone who aregues that the adjuvants don’t pose any health risks is naive.

    Also when looking at polio, yes it helped us overcome the problem, but have you ever thought of the fact that at that time we were learning about hygene that contributed to the decline of polio. Today most major outbreaks of Polio have been proved caused by the vaccines themselves. Not saying it wasn’t the vaccines, there are just questions we need answered. Just because we thought something was right, doesn’t mean it is. The world isn’t flat you know.

    What we really need is transparency between all organizations so we the people can come to a consensus formed by facts. When we hide information from each other we are impeding progress. As long as we have a profit system you will be able to own an idea along with the information collect.

  88. puppygod

    Chances of dying from the vaccine are about 1:1.000.000. Chance of dying from measles are about 1:5.000.

    No one is claiming that vaccines are 100% safe. But the alternative is much more deadly.

  89. Shawn Siegel

    Just don’t be naive enough, puppygod, to blindly accept the statistics put out by the government, when there’s a revolving door from the government to the executive offices of the pharmaceutical companies. Research thoroughly for yourself, and make it meaningful by not referencing only those sources who provided the information in the first place.

  90. @Shawn Siegel

    Umm, perhaps you may not have noticed, but the CDC, FDA and other health organizations do not claim that vaccines are 100% safe or 100% effective. Likewise, they have information available for free to anyone who bothers to look (e.g., the package inserts) listing what the risks are, who should not receive the vaccine and so on. Doctors should, but do not always, hand out the vaccine information sheet and discuss the vaccine with patients/parents. Parents and patients should also take some responsibility to inform themselves, read the information available and ask questions.

    You use the example of a child getting DTaP and dying several days later with the cause of death listed as SIDS and imply that it is the vaccine that was the cause. You then use that to generalize to all scientists/doctors as “untrustworthy”. You are engaging in prejudice and stereotyping. It is no different than if you met someone with reddish hair who stole from you and saying that, based on that, all red-haired individuals are thieves.

    The diseases we are told were eradicated by vaccines?…were not. Research. Access morbidity/mortality rates for measles, for instance

    Not sure where you’re hearing that measles was eradicated by vaccines, because it certainly wasn’t from scientists. Measles could be eliminated by vaccines, since the virus only infects humans. Immunize everyone and then, like smallpox, the vaccine would not be needed anymore.

    I see you don’t mention any instances of when scientists do act trustworthy, such as when Frances Oldham, a former reviewer with the FDA, refused the approval of thalidomide as a treatment for morning sickness in the U.S. Or how about all of the scientists that showed that the tobacco companies were at best being coy and at worst lying regarding the risks of smoking?

    For that matter, how about the scientists that developed the computer you’re using right now? Or the ones that created safer transportation for you to use? Or those who find the contaminants in the foods that you eat? For every example that you find of some scientist being dishonest, there are hundreds or thousands of examples of people working quietly in the background to try to make your life better using, guess what, science!

    If you think that that CDC or FDA cannot ever be trusted or that doctors should never be listened to, then you better produce plenty of high quality evidence to substantiate your claims.

  91. Donnie

    Let me add some numbers too, puppygod:

    Chances of getting autism from vaccination 1:100

    Look at the populataion vithout vaccination, like Amish.
    No vaccination – no autism.

  92. JC

    Oh, great, it’s the conspiracy crowd out and about, as expected.

    Hey, guys, ranting about “evil pharm companies” doesn’t prove squat. If you think they’re evil, then that would give them motive, but motive isn’t proof, mmkay?

    Why is it that you guys disbelieve stats and studies done by reputable organizations, but have no problem believing whatever some random dumbass on the internet spouts out? I swear, all someone has to do is claim that Evil Big Pharma Is Hiding The Truth, and suddenly you’ll believe almost anything.

  93. Donnie

    If your kid gets autistic, it would cost you around 40k per year just to treat it.
    No conspiracy here, just business.

  94. Robert

    Editted because it became too much like piling on #12

    Keep up the good work Dr. Plait.

  95. dgalbraith

    Even health officials are blaming the anti-vaccinationists directly:

    “Inadequate Vaccination Coverage at Least Partly to Blame, Officials Say”
    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/ColdandFlu/whooping-cough-epidemic-california-lax-vaccination-blame/story?id=11000305

    The caveat about Latino workers may be true but the increased incidence of whooping cough in other areas without Latino workers but with anti-vaccination movements suggests otherwise, even if it doesn’t prove it.

  96. Chanelle

    Great, the more people who hear about this epidemic, the more who will run in fear every time I clear my throat. I am one of those people “blessed” with a horrible hard cough. Even when I’m not the slightest bit sick. I remember dozens of times in school when I would cough for some little thing (swallowed wrong or something) and the teachers would freak out and want to send me to the nurse’s office. I thought they were all crazy. The words “whooping cough” were spoken many times in my hearing. (I was vaccinated and have never had whooping cough).

    People! Get your vaccines so the outbreak will subside and I can go back to being able to clear my throat without causing a riot!

  97. buddyglass

    @Shawn #91:

    I found various charts showing measles deaths declining over the 20th century prior to vaccination. Unfortunately, none of the sites gave any reference to where they got their stats. Maybe you can fill in the gaps?

    I take it you’re asserting that these charts mean the measles vaccine did basically nothing, and that measles deaths would have approached zero even without the vaccine being introduced.

    If that’s the case, how do you explain recent results in the 2000 to 2008 time period achieved by the “Measles Initiative” in various third-world countries? To wit:

    “The Eastern Mediterranean region, which includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and 16 other countries, has seen measles deaths drop by 93 percent from 2000-2008.”

    “In the African region, measles deaths decreased an estimated 92 percent between 2000 and 2008.”

    Are we to suppose that the overall sanitation, nutrition and health care availability in these countries increased dramatically from 2000 to 2008, and that that’s the cause of the reduction in measles deaths?

    Speaking of charts, I give you this one from the wikipedia page on measles:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Measles_US_1944-2007_inset.png

    Assuming the stats from the anti-vax charts are accurate, they would indicate that while the incidence of measles *cases* didn’t decrease prior to the vaccine, the incidence of measles *deaths* did. Most likely due to antibiotics used to combat secondary infections. Looking at the above chart showing the incidence of measles *cases*, its hard to argue the vaccine had no effect.

  98. Chris

    buddyglass, it is a typical anti-vax tactic to go on all about the deaths from disease and ignore incidence. The problem is that they are ignoring the advances in medical care including ventilators that keep very sick kids alive when the pneumonia is suffocating them.

    Plus they use plots that skew the plots by using a very long time line, and worse use a logarithmic scale. Here is census data from dub dub dub dot census.gov/prod/99pubs/99statab/sec31.pdf , where the only editing I did was to make it read on a blog comment. I did not change the numbers. I have asked several times what happened between 1960 and 1970, and have not had a good reply.
    Year…. Rate per 100000 of measles
    1912 . . . 310.0
    1920 . . . 480.5
    1925 . . . 194.3
    1930 . . . 340.8
    1935 . . . 584.6
    1940 . . . 220.7
    1945 . . . 110.2
    1950 . . . 210.1
    1955 . . . 337.9
    1960 . . . 245.4
    1965 . . . 135.1
    1970 . . . . 23.2
    1975 . . . . 11.3
    1980 . . . . . 5.9
    1985 . . . . . 1.2
    1990 . . . . .11.2
    1991 . . . . . .3.8
    1992 . . . . . .0.9
    1993 . . . . . .0.1
    1994 . . . . . .0.4
    1995 . . . . . .0.1
    1996 . . . . . .0.2
    1997 . . . . . . 0.1

    Also, another anti-vax tactic is to point out that Japan stopped using the pertussis vaccine in the 1970s and SIDS went down. Actually it didn’t, they just could not blame the vaccine. From: Expert Rev Vaccines. 2005 Apr;4(2):173-84.
    Acellular pertussis vaccines in Japan: past, present and future.
    Watanabe M, Nagai M.

    An antivaccine movement developed in Japan as a consequence of increasing numbers of adverse reactions to whole-cell pertussis vaccines in the mid-1970s. After two infants died within 24 h of the vaccination from 1974 to 1975, the Japanese government temporarily suspended vaccinations. Subsequently, the public and the government witnessed the re-emergence of whooping cough, with 41 deaths in 1979. This series of unfortunate events revealed to the public that the vaccine had, in fact, been beneficial. Furthermore, researchers and the Japanese government proceeded to develop safer pertussis vaccines. Japan now has the most experience worldwide with acellular pertussis vaccines, being the first country to have approved their use. This review describes the major events associated with the Japanese vaccination program. The Japanese experience should be valuable to other countries that are considering the development and use of such vaccines.

    Now if Shawn could come up with some real evidence, and not anecdotes which cannot be verified, that the DTaP vaccine is more dangerous than diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis… he could have a real argument. Otherwise, it is the same old stuff I have heard for years.

    By the way, oral polio vaccines have not been used for years.

  99. Chris

    The measles incidence data I used is nicely plotted here:
    http://www.iayork.com/MysteryRays/2009/09/02/measles-deaths-pre-vaccine/

    On the top is a link to his excellent series of posts on measles, “Measles Week.” It explains why epidemics are cyclic, and the improvements in medical care. Well worth a read.

  100. Matt

    To those pointing out that we should distrust vaccines because of the profit motive of pharma companies, apparently you missed the portion of the article that Phil cited IN BOLD that stated that the pertussis vaccine is distributed FOR FREE to hospitals and participating counties.
    Secondly, I still have never received an answer as to how death is favorable to autism. I know I’m fighting the strawman with that question, but honestly, can anybody give me an answer as to why they’d rather risk death? Even if autism WAS tied to vaccines, which it is not, I’d still get my child vaccinated, because a living child is preferable to a dead one. I guess I’m weird like that.

  101. Chris

    Matt, I have never heard why vaccinating is more profitable than providing the considerable medical care a child with pertussis or measles requires. Surely ventilators are sold by Big Pharma!

    Dr. Mark Crislip mentions it often on his ScienceBasedMedicine articles and his podcasts that vaccines cut into his bottom line, since he only gets paid to treat sick people (the last three Quackcasts have been hilarious).

    Economic Evaluation of the 7-Vaccine Routine Childhood Immunization Schedule in the United States, 2001
    Zhou F, Santoli J, Messonnier ML, Yusuf HR, Shefer A, Chu SY, Rodewald L, Harpaz R.
    Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005;159:1136-1144.

    and

    West J Med. 1996 Jul-Aug;165(1-2):20-5.
    Pediatric hospital admissions for measles. Lessons from the 1990 epidemic.
    Chavez GF, Ellis AA.

  102. Matt

    @Chris #106 – Thank you for the good citations. It’s funny that the conspiracy wing of the anti-vax crowd never mentions that if the pharma companies were so wrought with evil and profit motive, they could (using the wingnutters’ logic) make much more money by allowing these diseases to persist and developing drugs to “treat”, rather than cure, the ailments. From my understanding, autism-spectrum disorders are treated less with drugs and more with therapy, so I would think that should throw the profit motive argument out the window. But again, I think I’m expecting too much logic from the react-from-emotion anti-vax crowd.

  103. Adam

    You guys love to argue. I love it. Keep up the opinionated posts!

  104. Whatever the cause, mandatory vaccination is the answer.

  105. Mark Hansen

    Donnie, the Amish do have autistic children. The Amish not having autistic children is a myth – the same as the one about the Chinese not having a word for autism. Another myth is autism coming in prepackaged form through vaccination. And even if your assertion and figure was right, 1% of kids needing treatment for autism is less financially attractive than treating 10% – 20% of kids for complications due to vaccine preventable diseases.

  106. JohnV

    @Donnie

    “Chances of getting autism from vaccination 1:100″

    Citation needed.

    “Look at the populataion vithout vaccination, like Amish.”

    Falsehood noted.

  107. JupiterIsBig

    Phil, may I call you that ?
    It’s a bit late in the comments for me to get pedantic – saying the AVN caused the deaths in Sydney Australia is like saying a someone in Boulder is from Denver.
    She is based in a hippy area 6 hours drive north.

    Unfortunbately there are also rich educated “north shore” types who follow her woo too :-(

  108. Peptron

    The problem with vaccines is that they are the victim of their success. When they work, you are left with the rather unimpressive “nothing happened”; and since it’s the norm that nothing really ever happens when vaccines are used, people forget what actually is the thing that could happen if they were to be abandonned.

    It’s as if after an extreme bout of home invasions, a business managed to make a home protection system so effective that home invasions would be completely unheard of anymore. Then people would start to wonder what is the point of having a home protection system, since there is no such thing as home invasions; not realising that the reason that there is no home invasions is because of the home protection systems everywhere.

  109. Paul in Sweden

    “96. Donnie Says:
    June 24th, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Let me add some numbers too, puppygod:

    Chances of getting autism from vaccination 1:100

    Look at the populataion vithout vaccination, like Amish.
    No vaccination – no autism.”

    Donnie, I am unaware of any evidence linking autism with vaccination. Should you come across any evidence please post it here.

  110. Paul in Sweden

    When it is all crunched down, In My Not So Humble Opinion I really don’t give a FF about someone’s opinion or observance of a religious/holistic belief or self-preserving fear. If you are going to live in society you will not endanger others. If you are not vaccinated against the known preventable illnesses or exhibit behavior that spreads other diseases that cannot be prevented by vaccination, you must be quarantined.

  111. QuietDesperation

    Hey, guys, ranting about “evil pharm companies” doesn’t prove squat.

    It’s a comic book view of the universe. Businesses are evil entities an run by Snidely Whiplash types all out to kill us or *make* children sick so they become life long customers.

    Reference image: The CEO of Pfizer plots his next child-crippling act

  112. Robert

    92. Jeff Says:
    June 24th, 2010 at 1:57 pm
    “…. Today most major outbreaks of Polio have been proved caused by the vaccines themselves…..”

    PROOF?
    -=-=-=-=-
    96. Donnie Says:
    June 24th, 2010 at 2:49 pm
    Let me add some numbers too, puppygod:

    Chances of getting autism from vaccination 1:100

    Look at the populataion vithout vaccination, like Amish.
    No vaccination – no autism.

    -=-=-=-=-

    ANY reliable documentation for either of those?

    Last I checked, and first I checked, there is NO link between autism and vaccines.

    As for the Amish myth, well, it is a myth.

  113. christine

    unfortunately, the pertussis vaccine is not that effective. i have known multiple people, both adults and children, who have contracted this difficult disease. all save one had been vaccinated. the vaccine has about a 60% effective rate. i think the bigger issue is of doctors not diagnosing this illness accurately immediately, so that those suffering can be treated with antibiotics.
    in fact, when my youngest sister (then 4) contracted pertussis, her pediatrician treated her for asthma, despite the fact that there is no family history. he didn’t even think about pertussis, because he assumed she would be immunized and therefore protected. by the time her condition was properly diagnosed, she was past the stage of being treated with antibiotics. her cough lasted for months.
    http://www.vaccines.me/articles/vprkm-pertussis-vaccine-unreliable—study-from-new-zealand.cfm

  114. Chris

    Actually, christine, that is more of an argument to bolster herd immunity by making sure that older children and adults get the Tdap. That way doctors would not have cases to misdiagnose.

    It is well known that the DTaP is about 80% effective (no vaccine is 100% effective, each person has a different immune response), and it does wear off. Also you cannot make a statement based on one study, and you need to go to the actual studies and not a biased website that is “reporting” that study (an old one in New Zealand):

    Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2009 Feb;28(2):152-3.
    Pertussis vaccine effectiveness after mass immunization of high school students in Australia.
    Rank C, Quinn HE, McIntyre PB.

    Epidemiol Infect. 2009 Jan;137(1):124-30. Epub 2008 May 12.
    Effectiveness of an acellular pertussis vaccine in Japanese children during a non-epidemic period: a matched case-control study.
    Okada K, Ohashi Y, Matsuo F, Uno S, Soh M, Nishima S.

    Pediatrics. 2005 Aug;116(2):e285-94.
    Pertussis vaccine effectiveness among children 6 to 59 months of age in the United States, 1998-2001.
    Bisgard KM, Rhodes P, Connelly BL, Bi D, Hahn C, Patrick S, Glodé MP, Ehresmann KR

    The last one is not behind a pay wall, so you can read it… it is very complicated. They are all more recent than 2003, unlike the study you pointed out (that is a technique called “cherry picking”, something that should be avoided). There were other studies, but they were for different combo-vaccines (like DTaP/Hib etc).

    Some herd immunity arithmetic:

    Take 1000 people (ignoring the infants under 2 months who cannot be vaccinated, or babies under a year who can only be partially vaccinated), if 5% refuse vaccines then the numbers are:

    950 vaccinated persons (assuming full schedule)
    50 unvaccinated persons

    The pertussis vaccine is actually only 80% effective at worse, so the numbers are:

    760 protected persons
    190 vaccinated but vulnerable persons
    50 unvaccinated persons

    There is an outbreak and it gets spread to 20% of the population, then:

    760 protected persons without pertussis

    38 vaccinated persons get pertussis
    152 vaccinated person who may still get pertussis

    10 unvaccinated persons get pertussis
    40 unvaccinated persons who may still get pertussis.

    This is how more vaccinated persons get the disease than unvaccinated. Even if the infection rate was at 100%, there would still be more of the vaccinated getting the diseases because there are more of them!

    So make sure more are vaccinated! My teenagers have all had the Tdap, and I will get it when it is time for my tetanus booster.

  115. N. Cognito

    Maybe if they wouldn’t force an excessive amount of vaccines, people wouldn’t be boycotting them! Do babies REALLY need an HIB vaccine before they leave the hospital? I read up on the controversy at the advice of a friend whose daughter has autism. I had all my childhood diseases and I was shocked to find out the vaccines don’t give them a life-long immunity.

    My grandson only had his 3 month shots. When he turned 2, they brought him up to date with all his missing vaccinations. If I hadn’t witnessed it with my own eyes, I never would’ve believed it! His vocabulary dropped from 50 words to about 20 words. He started banging his head a lot and became obsessed with spinning objects. Now 3, he has a severe case of echolalia and has yet to start asking the unending questions typical of that age.

    Back in the late 1980′s, kids had about 10 vaccinations as opposed to the mandatory 33 now. The rate of autism has gone from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 150 for girls and 1 in 90 for boys. Those are some pretty high odds! If I were faced with the vaccine dilemma, I would wait till my child was 2, when natural immunities kick in, and be very careful which vaccinations were administered.

  116. Melissa

    As a new Mum-to-be as well as a health professional, I am disappointed that there are so many of you so illusioned about the effectiveness of vaccines. If you dig a little deeper you will find that many victims of this ‘epidemic’ are, indeed, vaccinated, and that antibody levels do not correlate to immunity.

    But, it suits you better to criticise those with unpopular, but justified, opinions, and to perpetuate the fear factor further.

    By the way, I had a shocking case of whooping cough when I was a kid, and I was fully vaccinated. There is a lot of information proving that vaccines are not as safe or effective as we are led to believe, even in credible journals and in the CDC literature. It is hidden in plain sight if you can bother to look for it.

    Or, will you just believe, without question, what you are fed by Big Pharma and the media? I’m not asking you to be anti-vax, just to look deeper at the real facts and to realise that they are not the enemy.

    They are trying to protect their children the best way they know how, just like you are.

  117. Towanda

    What is the #1 thing people have done to prevent disesase? They have increased their sanitation, including hand-washing. This has done more to prevent communicable disease than vaccines or antibiotics.

    Even with vaccination, total elimination of a disease is next to impossible. Microbes replicate, mutate and evolve faster than we do. The average bacterium can replicate in between 20-40 minutes, even faster than the Duggars.

    If doctors want higher vaccine compliance, they need to embrace informed consent and respect their patients and their patients’ children. They need to write down batch numbers every time they vaccinate somebody and take patients seriously when adverse effects are reported. Using fear tactics like threatening to report parents for abuse or neglect or threatening to drop them as patients increases distrust. While I don’t agree with mandated vaccinations for schools, I do agree with a mandatory vaccine recall if adverse effects are reported (recalls are voluntary).

    It would decrease the rates of many diseases if doctors learned more about and promoted breastfeeding, as it helps prevent or decrease the severity of many childhood diseases and even carries immunity to others (ie; if a mother has had measles, she confers some of that immunity to her child. Breastmilk also contains macrophages, which help kill microbes, as well as all five immunoglobulins, important for increasing resistance to disease).

  118. Chris

    N. Cognito: “Do babies REALLY need an HIB vaccine before they leave the hospital?”

    Um, no. Because it is not given until a child is two months old. In the 1980s, before that vaccine was introduced, hundreds of children were permanently disabled and died due that form of bacterial meningitis. Explain exactly why that should come back, especially after there was an Hib vaccine shortage and recently there were five deaths from Hib in Pennsylvania?

    Melissa, I see you are not reading very well. Who has said vaccines were perfect? I suggest you go up and read post #123 where the herd immunity numbers are explained. Actually, you are making an argument for improved herd immunity with more people getting the pertussis vaccine. Especially the Tdap for older children and adults. If you are a health professional you should be aware of this, and have had the Tdap. If you have not, then I doubt you are a real health professional.

    Towanda, no one denies sanitation has reduced disease. But the main diseases are cholera, typhus and other insect and water born diseases. Doesn’t do much for air born diseases like pertussis, diphtheria, and measles. Japan stopped mandatory measles vaccination, and measles returned with deadly consequences. Did Japan suddenly have a declination in sanitation?

    Also, disease eradication can be done to diseases that are only seen in one animal. Smallpox is gone because it only replicated in humans. Rinderpest may be gone from cattle. The same can be done with measles and polio.

    The microbes that change often are influenza. Do try to understand that there are differences between the types of viruses.

    Also, you are showing you have not even gotten a vaccine for a while. What you claim doctors should do, is being done. The noting of batch numbers has been on my vaccine record since my birth over fifty years ago (I was born near where John McCain was, and my vaccines included yellow fever, typhus, polio, typhoid and others).

  119. Chris

    N. Cognito, if you actually meant HepB vaccine, then I suggest you read this account by a father who had no idea he had the disease that got passed on to his wife, and then to his daughter:
    http://www.bgladd.com/1in3/

    Plus read this http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=2849 … some quotes:

    Even so, the picture isn’t particularly pretty. Around 5% of the US population has been infected with Hepatitis B, and 0.3 are chronic carriers. Most HBV infections occur in those aged 25-44 (4/100,000), with the lowest rates of infection in those under 15 (0.1/100,000). In 2007 4,519 new cases in the US were reported to the CDC, though this represents a fraction of the total number of infections.

    and

    The third possible strategy is to vaccinate people at the time of birth. This strategy addresses the problem of perinatal infection, prevents the acquisition of HBV by people during early childhood when the risk of chronic infection is highest, and since the immunity it induces lasts for decades it covers the entire population during the highest risk times of their lives.

    (see how that last paragraph reflects the father’s story in the first link)

  120. Chris

    Oops… Melissa read post #122. Though perhaps you have trouble when there are too many words (like cites to papers on pertussis vaccine efficacy), here it is again:

    Some herd immunity arithmetic:

    Take 1000 people (ignoring the infants under 2 months who cannot be vaccinated, or babies under a year who can only be partially vaccinated), if 5% refuse vaccines then the numbers are:

    950 vaccinated persons (assuming full schedule)
    50 unvaccinated persons

    The pertussis vaccine is actually only 80% effective at worse, so the numbers are:

    760 protected persons
    190 vaccinated but vulnerable persons
    50 unvaccinated persons

    There is an outbreak and it gets spread to 20% of the population, then:

    760 protected persons without pertussis

    38 vaccinated persons get pertussis
    152 vaccinated person who may still get pertussis

    10 unvaccinated persons get pertussis
    40 unvaccinated persons who may still get pertussis.

    This is how more vaccinated persons get the disease than unvaccinated. Even if the infection rate was at 100%, there would still be more of the vaccinated getting the diseases because there are more of them!

  121. To N. Cognito, Melissa and Towanda, in addition to what Chris has said, I also recommend you visit antiantivax.flurf.net and read the information there, then follow the links in the text to additional information.

  122. I had pertussis at age 48 in 2004. My voice will not recover from the damage the bacteria caused. A co-worker got it earlier this year and is still coughing as he recovers. Two others in our office may have it currently. Several people have babies on the way. The herd immunity needs to get back up or more than just these newborns are going to be at risk. It is insidious in adults because you often don’t feel that bad with it. I painted a new house and moved into it while sick. I just had a crappy cough that would occasionally explode into the whooping thing. But I didn’t really feel bad. I got the treatment weeks before the diagnosis, the remaining cough being my air passages recovering from the irritation of the bacteria. Not vaccinating kills. Period.

  123. Venture Free

    Here’s how I think the thought process goes.

    Death, is a one shot deal. Certainly it is a heartbreaking and awful situation and the parents’ lives are never quite the same, but for the most part they can then move on and live life much as they had before.

    Autism on the other hand is a lifelong issue. It too can be a heartbreaking and awful situation, but it’s not one that gets to fade away into the past. It’s always an issue every day of the parents lives, and there is little or no hope for a normal life after such a diagnosis.

    So which is worse, a heartbreaking situation that fades slowly into the past, or a heartbreaking situation that never goes away? Many anti-vaxxers consider the one that never goes away as much worse. It’s worse enough that if there’s even a tiny chance of autism, choose death. In fact, it’s so incredibly worse that if 10 children have to die to prevent one case of autism, it’s worth it. In fact, it’s so amazingly, unfathomably, incomprehensibly worse that if there is a suspicion that there just might be a 1 in a trillion chance of one person possibly getting autism from vaccines that might not have gotten it otherwise, then it’s worth sacrificing dozens or hundreds or thousands of lives to prevent it. After all, they’re just dead. They don’t have to be cared for for the rest of their lives. It’s the more humane choice.

  124. Gary Ansorge

    ,,,and then, there’s the autism, vitamin D link(particularly applicable to Amish farmers and people of color).

    http://www.vitaminddoc.com/d3autism.html

    Gary 7

  125. tagsis

    Even if the chance of having a devastating reaction to a vaccine is “tiny”, most parents are not willing to sacrifice their own child on the altar of the herd. Imagine the horror of knowing that you held your screaming infant down while a substance was injected into its bloodstream that proved the child’s undoing. The fact that most parents do vaccinate is more likely due to them not ever hearing of someone having a serious reaction and the fact that in many states they have to vaccinate to get their child into school. Vaccinations are treated by most pediatricians as something that must be done. Few are equipped to question a doctor and are in most cases so busy caring for a new infant that they do not have time to do the research. It seems counterproductive to me to continue to pit vaxers against antivaxers. Why not give both sides the benefit of the doubt and assume that they want what is best for their children? Instead of hiding the truth and poking fun at people that are sincerely trying to find the truth, why not start the research into why some children have horrible reactions and some do not appear to be affected. Yes it will take a long time to figure it out, but we will never figure it out by not starting. What if there was a simple blood test that could predict if an infant was likely to have a serious reaction or even a simple swab of the inside cheek? If we could do that, then we could choose not to vaccinate those likely to react. If indeed they are a “tiny” portion of the population, then the herd immunity gained by vaccinating the vast majority would not be lost. I guess it is just easier to villify parents who are trying to make the best choice for their children and who are I am certain in almost all cases concerned about the health of other children as well.People who just want to add fuel to the controversy and do not push for this research are hurting children just as much as what they believe the antivax groups are. The questions in people’s minds will never be answered with just invective.

  126. Chris

    Venture Free, those who think like that do not have a clue about the effect of death on a family. The hurt never goes away. Especially that of a child.

    I have experienced someone commenting on a blog that a child with measles was okay, despite being hospitalized and hooked up to a ventilator. He seemed to think that it was okay, versus autism (and vaccine do not cause autism). Since my son was in and out of hospitals before his third birthday (and actually spent his first week of life in one, starting out in the infant intensive care unit), I told him that he had no idea. He refused to comment, claiming that a very sick child was better than an autistic child. Absolutely no comprehension that the seizures my son suffered while suffering from a now vaccine preventable disease might be the cause of his disabilities.

    Then there are the eugenics types. They feel if a child cannot survive the disease, that it is better for society. They don’t like them when I ask them why my son with a genetic heart disorder is less deserving of life than theirs. sigh

    There is no real evidence that vaccines cause autism. But there is real evidence that diseases like pertussis cause death, and measles causes both death and permanent disability. They also seem to forget the the diseases do actually cause permanent disabilities, and rubella is a known cause of autism:

    Impact of specific medical interventions on reducing the prevalence of mental retardation.
    Brosco JP, Mattingly M, Sanders LM.
    Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006;160:302-309.

  127. Chris

    Tagsis:

    Imagine the horror of knowing that you held your screaming infant down while a substance was injected into its bloodstream that proved the child’s undoing

    In that sentence is a big clue you have no idea of what you are blathering about. Can find you the flaw? That one I italicized for you?

    Here is an idea, Tagsis, why don’t you do some serious studying on the subject and come back with some real evidence. Tell us exactly what the relative risks are between the vaccines and the diseases. Remember each one is different, especially the difference between bacteria and virus, and the type of transmission… oh, and why the sentence I quoted has something in italics.

    (Um, Gary, Vitamin D quacks not needed here… by the way the Amish do vaccinate and have several genetic disorders in their children, including forms of autism. Plus, the guy has a doctorate in education, not applicable to the discussion, along with the fact the article is a bunch of hooey. Go away and do not spam here anymore.)

  128. Moderation

    christine@121 – for clarification:

    There are three stages of “whooping cough”. The first stage is the catarrhal stage and the symptoms are fever, mild cough and runny nose – this last for 1-2 weeks and looks like a regular cold. Most people are diagnosed in the second phase – the paroxysmal phase with the classic loud whooping cough. Antibiotic therapy can only reducing the severity and duration when administered early in the course of the disease – and is in fact not a cure in the sense that antibitics cure an ear infection or pneumonia. The most important purpose of antibiotics in whooping cough is to help reduce the risk of transmission of the disease, and in fact prophylactic antibiotics should be admistered to asymptomatic close contacts of the infected person. The third stage is the convalescent stage of slow recovery. So it is very common for people to be diagnosed too late to benefit from antibiotics themselves. Therefore the best thing a responsible parent can do is get themselves and their children vaccinated.

    The “resistant” pertussis in New Zealand and Australia is believed to, at least in part, be due to the shift from a live attenuated vaccine to an acellular form of the vaccine. The acellular form has about 3 antigens, while the attenuated version has several hundred … offering a broader immunity and more difficulty for the pertusis to develop resistance.

  129. Andre

    Every type of chemical or pharmacological therapy or enhancement comes with some risks—just read the label. It is simply a question of whether the benefit out weighs the risk. For example, my four year old contracted “shingles” (Herpes Zoster), normally a sickness the elderly contracts if they were exposed to chickenpox at earlier stages. Only one side of her body had pox and it was extremely painful. This “one in a million” risk to chickenpox vaccinations is still a real risk for the one that has to suffer the harm. Of cause, the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risk but to try to argue that there is no risk associated with vaccinations is just as misleading.

  130. Two of my children have shown positive to whooping cough. I already brought in my 1st son and told doc I suspected it. It sounded like it and my grandson may get it who is 7 months old. They said he did not have it. They heard him cough and decided to run the test. CAme back negative. He had already been coughing for weeks. So of course if came back negative. My daughter was there and I said she is coughing to what about her, they told me just to keep and eye on her. Brought her to another doctor about 4 days later, in the same clinic, gave her an antibiotic. I went back 5 days later told them she was whooping. They never believe you unless they see it. I said I want a test done. It will probably come back negative since they waited to long and already had her on an antibiotic. Well two others began coughing. I knew I had to get them tested right away in order for it to show up. (the cough wasn’t bad yet, just beginning ) this is the best time to get them seen. Well today they called and said the test came back positive for the two. If they would have jumped on the band wagon and took me serious it may have never went this far. Glad I had the internet and know how to read. Two of the four have been vaccinated–they still got it, and it started with the vaccinated child. Vaccination does not mean immunity. Everyone is different. I do believe it is making a comeback due to all of the migrants coming in. They were checked out in the beginning at Ellis Island before they were allowed into the country. The same should be done now. There are illegals to take into consideration, too. The public health department will not say there is a case unless the test shows positive. That is another reason it is spread.

  131. Lara

    I only skimmed the nonsense comments about the “non-vaxers” and “illegals” “bringing back” this disease, so I don’t know if this has been said, but —

    have any of you actually researched this vaccine?

    It’s a TOXOID vaccine! It doesn’t prevent infection, it doesn’t prevent transmission!

    Pertussis bacteria produce a toxin which produces the paroxysmal cough. The toxoid MAY prevent the recipient from manifesting a full-blown case of whooping cough, but ANYONE can get it, and ANYONE can spread it, regardless of vaccination status. You may be infected with pertussis asymptomatically and STILL spread it.

    That is why pertussis is endemic, and never going away. Vaccinating has no effect on exposure to infants or susceptible populations at all. There is no herd immunity from pertussis!

    @ least most non or selective vaxxers do their research on the diseases. Good grief.
    Do your homework instead of trusting pharma to do it for you.

    Simpsonwood Transcripts: http://www.putchildrenfirst.org/

  132. Orange Lantern

    Lara,
    Pertussis vaccine is not a toxoid vaccine. It is made from purified components of the bacterium. Perhaps you are thinking of the tetanus or diptheria components of the vaccine, which are toxoids, but they protect against different diseases.

    The pertussis component is 60-90% effective at preventing pertussis infection and can indeed prevent transmission. A recent study of Colorado outbreaks showed that children were 23 times more likely to get pertussis if they were unvaccinated.

    You would do well to do better homework yourself, instead of trusting anti-vaccine websites to do it for you.

  133. lex

    I never had vaccines growing up which may be a reason to having such a strong immune system…. so its really a question to toss up in the air…. its politics pretty much…. some say get it some say don’t due to after effects in birthing or your own body. Going back to not bein vaccinated I would say being around all sorts of enviromental bacteria made my immune system strong and I never got extremly sick had the normal cold here and there but quickly recovered. I believe young ones also just need good hygeine habbits…. as well as parents! By shielding yourself away from bacteria is what will make you weaker that a common cold could fester to a more extreme illness. How bout this for say peanut allergies…. where the heck did that come from? Did u know due to many varies allterations to the human body the cases of peanut allergies arised the last few years highly?!?!? now going back further when we not alltering foods or our bodie there was no such thing. Many generations b4 us had no knowledge of these alterations and never came across issues(I’m of course talking native days) so now back to vaccines the odds of getting worse yes or very slim that we know but also are the odds of getting struck by lightening I say this cuz I do honestly know someone who is an average person who has been struck twice…. so I strongly believe if we eat healthy and stay healthy with hygeine and all we should be fine. Its others around us that don’t have the income and wellness for good health care or being educated to know these things that may need the vaccines to avoid the spreading like other lower income areas and countries where more illness comes from to the USA. I have nothing against imagrants (illegal or legal)but if they are bringing forign bacteria over to us from areas that are not clean(again with hygeine clean safe water ect) that’s where we need to first focuss vaccinating. We can’t stop people from coming but if you can’t provide better living at least better care to them before they do come over!

  134. Frank

    If indeed it’s the anti-vacs that are causing this:

    If you refuse vacs for yourself that is your choice, more power to you.
    If we had more people like you we would have less people like you.

    If you refuse vacs for your children you are disgusting and a child
    killer.

    If you refuse vacs for you or your children and infect my yet-to-be
    vaccinated infant, then we have real problems. That mean you
    are also murdering my family.

    So go ahead, refuse your vacs, but please move somewhere else.

  135. Renee

    My son was 5 weeks old when he passed away due to whooping cough. Please vaccinate!!!

  136. Melissa

    I am amazed at the sheer ignorance of many of the posters on here. I am only assuming that many have not read about genetics and how that relates to physiology and brain chemistry. Because if you have read the literature you would know that the link between exposure to certain chemicals and brain damage in infants is something that has already been PROVEN. Unfortunately the only way to determine what a child is susceptible to is to have their DNA examined and the test can be very costly.

    I work with children with Autism. They are some of the most vulnerable children I have ever worked with because they cannot care for themselves even on the most basic level. Unfortunately – many of them will grow up and will have no one to care for them as adults. Many of them will end up in state care or homeless on the streets. I am not saying that dying from a disease is not horrible, but isn’t a child who’s brain is damaged beyond any repair just as big a tragedy???

    Like I said – read the literature. And not just the state and mainstream propaganda that is out there. Read about genetics, read about drug susceptibility. Read about the effect of mercury on the brain. If you really want to have a debate, let’s have a debate. But don’t slander the other side and call that superior reasoning.

  137. Tldn

    I think it’s funny that people are blaming the unvaccinated. In theory, shouldnt the ones already vaccinated never get the disease? Seems to me that the vaccination doesnt work in the first place, but who am I to put common sense into a Liberal debate?

  138. Thomas

    “I think it’s funny that people are blaming the unvaccinated. In theory, shouldnt the ones already vaccinated never get the disease?”

    You may have seen those little creatures around, called “babies”? They are too young to be vaccinated, yet most people still want them to live.

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